Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Yes, I miss them and wish I could be experiencing their first trip to Europe with them. But ce la vie! (Did I spell that right??) I'm just happy that they have discovered a world bigger than their own. And I pray that this trip to France will motivate my teen to get better grades in French. She probably understands now why learning a foreign language can be so advantageous. (I just hope she hasn't perfected the word "vino." The drinking age in France is quite liberal, I hear.)
The girls tell me the snow is amazing. My teen said the runs are REALLY long and it took an hour and a half to make it down just one of them. Those French Alps must be REALLY tall mountains!
If you live in France, please be especially kind to any teenaged girls from America who you might run into. Hopefully, if you're on the slopes with them, it won't be the other way around.
Happy New Year! And French kisses to everyone!
Sunday, December 28, 2008
I have two confessions for you today.
My first confession is that I've never really been a merry-Christmas-type of person. I can count on one hand the number of Christmases that I thought were wonderful and happy. It started when I was a child. Christmas morning was always over-the-top wonderful, but they were often cut short by a mandatory plane ride to South Florida to see my father. I loved spending time with my biological father, but it always came with a price. As a teenager, it meant leaving my friends who were all getting together to show off the clothes Santa had brought or going to the mall to spend gift money. It was never 100% happy.
As I became an adult, the guilt shifted to me who had to choose every year, with which I'd spend the holidays. It was always a struggle and regardless of where I was, there was somewhere I wasn't. Children made it easier. I set a rule that my children would always wake up in their own house on Christmas morning and anyone who wanted to see my children had to come to us. This allowed my children all day to play with their new toys and try out every single gift.
Before you begin to feel sorry for me, let me declare my second confession. I actually had a wonderful Christmas this year. It might have been the best I can remember. I realized this great achievement while riding my bike down the beach on Christmas day. I was alone and recounting the activities of the morning, all the gift-giving and unwrapping. Motorists probably wondered why I was smiling so much. I tried to analyze what had been so great about this holiday. Why it stood out from so many others? The answer seemed to lie within my children.
Instead of spending my morning assembling toys and trying to unwrap Bratz dolls from those crazy wire ties, we were all able to focus on the joy of giving. I found so much happiness in watching my children exchange gifts with each other. They had put so much effort into each present. One teen gave another teen a bilge pump for his boat; another gave an Xbox Live card. Perhaps the best gift was from my 13-year-old son to his younger sister. She had asked for a talking parrot for two years and he finally bought it for her. You could tell that each child carefully selected just the right gift for his or her sibling.
They were giving gifts to each other, but in reality, they were giving me the greatest gift I could receive -- a Merry Christmas.
By Maria Bailey
Monday, December 22, 2008
I'm reading an interesting book: "Dr. Ruth's Guide to Teens & Sex Today." Can you tell I'm hungry for some guidance on the topic? It's Christmas time and my mind should be taking a holiday. I should be reading something adventurous by Nelson DeMille or John Grisham. But no, I'd rather bone up (bad choice of words, I know) on a topic that scares the you-know-what out of me: teens and sex.
My teenager is CRAZY about boys. I guess she always has been, now that I think about it. I remember when she was about 4 and was watching some Disney video. I walked in right when the prince was about to kiss Cinderella, Snow White or one of those lucky princesses. She was standing about 2 feet from the TV, with her fingers in her mouth, looking enraptured. I made some noise to let her know I was there. She turned around, looking embarrassed, and said, "Mommy, go away." Not sure what was going through that sweet little head of hers, but I think she's been obsessed with kissing boys ever since.
She's 15 now, and her Disney days are WAY over. I know she's curious as all get-out about sex, and someday soon, I'm sure her curiosity will get the best of her. I firmly believe that teens should not be having sex at 15. They just aren't emotionally mature enough to handle everything that goes with it.
Dr. Ruth begs to differ. She says that throughout history, it was common for young people to get married in their early to midteens and have children. They were treated as adults back then. She claims that modern society doesn't view teenagers as "having reached adulthood yet because we want them to stay in school and they require parental support to do so." She says we are forcing a lengthened childhood on them. And I guess that means we are holding them back from having sexual experiences that they are physically ready for, too.
Not sure I'm buying that. But as Christmas approaches, I can't help but think about the Virgin Mary, who was around 13 or 14 when she gave birth to Jesus. Granted, it was an immaculate conception. However, if God thought Mary, the teenager, was old enough to mother the Son of God, couldn't we logically conclude that He thinks teenagers might be mature enough to have sex, too?
I plan to ask him about that someday. Face-to-face.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
So when I had children of my own, I had to start from scratch. Sure, we decorate the tree and drive around and look at lights on Christmas Eve, and we used to leave cookies for Santa when my daughters believed in him. But most every family does these things, so I wouldn't really call them "special" traditions.
Then about five years ago, I stumbled onto something. I went to a crafts class just for fun, and we learned how to make homemade Christmas ornaments using clear glass bulbs and acrylic paint. The first one I ever made was GORGEOUS! Trust me, I am NOT an artist or a crafty person. The only things I can draw are a bath and a paycheck! But this I could do! And if I could do it, I knew my then-young daughters could, too.
We've been making these Christmas ornaments every year since. (I made the one in the photo for my oldest sister this year . . . ssshhh! Lori, I hope you're not reading this!) They make an inexpensive and priceless gift, all at once.
We start right after Thanksgiving because it takes about three weeks for the paint to dry. The fun part is swirling and mixing different colors of paint until you get the design and look that you're after. When the bulbs are dry, you top them off with ribbons -- and that's where a lot of creativity comes into play. We try to find mucho ribbon colors, patterns and textures, so really, no two bulbs are ever alike.
My daughters wrap up their bulbs in decorative bags and give them away to friends and teachers the week before Christmas break -- this week! -- along with a loaf of homemade Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread. I gift my creations to co-workers, neighbors, family, my doctor and the mailman. Sure beats a $5 McDonald's gift certificate!
And that, my friends, is our special family tradition. One that I hope my daughters will pass along to their families one day. One day in the VERY distant future. First, college and getting your careers off the ground, right, girls?
Friday, December 12, 2008
This week, when I had to take him to the doctor to have a wound painfully lacerated, he sent me this: "A mother knows what a child cannot say." I am not sure where he got it, but I like to believe he wrote it from his heart. Each day, I look forward to my quote of the day and I don't think he knows, but I keep each one, hoping to one day put them into a book for him.
The reason I share this with you is because I think it's another example of the impact we make on our children, whether we think they are watching or not. It's a reminder that they are constantly thinking, listening, analyzing and mimicking us. Even when, as teenagers, they seem to disregard our words or actions, they are lurking and learning. Although I try to remember this every single day, I forget and later question whether I'm raising my children "right," whatever that truly means. Yesterday, I got one of those reminders that my children notice the things I do -- even when they become mundane to me.
I love to run, well I think I've actually learned to love to run. I do it because it gives me energy, helps me to clear my head and allows me to eat Oreo cookies every now and then. It's part of my life and part of my daily routine. I do crazy things with my running. I've completed 16 marathons and countless half marathons. Marathons, for those who do not know, are 26.1 miles with the .1 being the longest distance of the whole race.
Last weekend, I decided to challenge myself and run a half marathon in Memphis, Tennessee, on Saturday morning, get on a plane and on Sunday morning, run a full marathon in West Palm Beach. I know what you're thinking-- that's goofy, crazy, and why would I do it? Happily, I finished all my races and running by noon on Sunday, and spent the afternoon doing holiday activities with my children.
My 9-year-old greeted me at the door to collect my medal, while my 14-year-old compared my times with the rest of the racers online. My other son laid a blanket out on the couch for me, complete with a diet coke on the coffee table, while my other son quickly got to work on his daily e-mail to me.
This is the "Quote of the Day" that I received on Sunday night: "Running is a big question mark that's there each and every day. It asks you, 'Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'" Apparently, my teenager had noticed my weekend feat and created his own quote to signify my accomplishment. Reading it, I realized that my greatest accomplishment of the weekend was not running 39.3 miles in 24 hours in two different cities -- but that I had set an example for my children. They watched me set a goal for myself. They stood by while I struggled to reach it, and later celebrated in my victory. And in the quote I received from my son, they interpreted it all in their own positive way.
BY MARIA BAILEY
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone way, WAY back when, as ingenious as he was, I’m sure he couldn’t have imagined even in his wildest fantasies that one day, men and women would be peddling soft porn over his talking device.
Today, a story broke on every news outlet about how a third of young adults, ages 20-26, and 20% of teens, “have sent or posted naked or semi-naked photos or videos of themselves” via their cell phones. (http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/12/10/teens_nude_photos_get_unexpected_results/)
Back in my day (and I realize I sound like an old bitty), we fretted over party lines and worried about strangers being able to tap into our most private phone conversations.
Nowadays, many teenagers have become both voyeurs and exhibitionists, inviting anybody and everybody to see their most private parts.
I’m sorry . . . I just don’t GET it! I don’t even like to show my bra strap in public. How can teenagers voluntarily flash their breasts and penises for all the world to see? Where’s their dignity? Where’s their modesty? Where are their mothers??
You know these photos and/or videos will probably end up on YouTube eventually and stay there FOREVER. I’d like to see these teens and young adults explain this to their fiancees someday.
My daughter's cell phone is due for an upgrade soon. Maybe I should opt for the one without the camera.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Please post a response, if you feel like sharing your story with the whole wide world, and I will cut and paste it into a post on this blog.
We hope to hear from all you mothers of teenagers across the pond and down under!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
It got me wondering . . . do mothers in Iran have the same problems and relationships with their teenagers as we do here in the States? Or is it easier to keep your teenagers focused and on track because your government and religious leaders are also keeping an eye on them? They say it takes a village to raise a child. Maybe it takes a country to raise a teenager!
If you're out there, Iran, we would really love to hear -- and learn -- from you!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
What the heck is wrong with teenaged girls? Somewhere along the way, they seem to have picked up the message that their primary purpose in life is to look as SEXY as possible. My daughter (who goes to a Catholic school, mind you) is going to a Christmas dance tomorrow at her school. She and a few friends have decided that they are going to dress up as "Santa's little helpers." How cute, I thought. I pictured green tights, curly-toed slippers, a cone-shaped hat -- like what Will Ferrell wore in the movie "Elf."
Um, think again, naive Mom! These girls are actually planning on wearing the sexy Santa costume from Victoria's Secret. (I tried to post a picture of it, but I am woefully lacking in computer skills. Try this link I provided if you want to see what it really looks like.)
Technically, you can't really call that scrap of clothing between the belly button and the upper thigh a skirt. It's about as wide as a big belt -- Santa's belt. Needless to say, my daughter will NOT be dressing like a two-bit whore for the dance tomorrow night. We compromised. She will be wearing green shorts, white tights and a red tank top. I'm even going to throw in my Santa hat for good measure.
In fact, she'll look more like a real elf than her ho-ho-horribly tacky friends, who will probably spend most of the night doing Santa lap dances and hearing about some very private things the aroused boys at their school want for Christmas.
My question to you is: Would you let your teenage daughter dress like this for a school Christmas dance? You don't really need to respond. I already know the answer!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
When my daughters were born, my maternal instincts snapped into overdrive. As I lay in my hospital bed (on two separate occasions) cradling my newborns who were feeding from my breast for the first time, I swore with all my heart and soul that I would love, protect and care for these precious darlings for the rest of my days.
What WAS I thinking?
There comes a time in every mother’s life, around your first-born’s teen years (not coincidentally), when you suddenly realize you have to stop being such a good mother. As much as you think it’s important to their survival to continue to cook and clean and think for them, you’re really doing these emerging young adults a huge disservice. Somewhere along the way, your babies have to learn to take care of themselves. Fetch their own worms.
Up until recently, I’ve done MOST everything for my teen. (She does her own laundry as of three months ago!) Out of love, yes. But mostly because that’s what good mothers are supposed to do … aren’t we? Now she doesn’t even know how to iron, shame on me.
So I have to play a fast game of catchup. Below, I’ve compiled a list of tasks my teen needs to master in the 36 months I have left with her, before she strikes out into the world on her own; basic skills necessary for her survival out there in a world without mom.
I need to teach my teen how to:
* Thread a needle and sew a button
* Cook! We’ll start with the basics – spaghetti
* Clean toilets (it's about time!)
* Plan a meal
* Then grocery-shop
* Moisturize after washing her face
* Balance a checkbook
* Pay bills online
* Bake a cake
* Mop a floor (which could result from the aforementioned task)
* Check the oil level in the car (but not her car. She doesn't have one, nor will she ever!)
* Send thank-you notes
* Compute the gratuity on a restaurant tab (and maybe even pay it??)
What did I miss?? Does anyone want to add anything to the list?